To Bee Theatre Company are group of students from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama who are working with Senate House Library for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. In this guest blog they tell us more about their story and the workshops they will be running as part of the Shakespeare: Metamorphosis season.
We have been working since early March 2016 to plan and deliver Shakespeare-related workshops to Primary School children, and to create a performance they can watch. The aim of To Bee Theatre Company is to bring the world of Shakespeare to primary children in an exciting and engaging way. We aim to make that world accessible for primary-level learners by running specific workshops based around “the forgotten feud” in Romeo and Juliet.
Meet the "Bee" Team
Dan started as a Director with a youth company production of Little Shop of Horrors in 2014. He has also been involved in a touring production, which was performed at the Fuse Festival. As a writer he has written short pieces of work for exams and rehearsed readings and adapted scenes of the Velveteen Rabbit to be used in a devised performance.
Jono has worked across a range of learning and development settings. Over the past two years he has worked in outdoor education with PGL, mainly facilitating upper Primary level. He also works as a freelance videographer and currently works as a Programme Leader with NCS the Challenge.
After spending 11 years performing in various plays and musicals, Greig began facilitating Drama in schools as well as teaching the Drama curriculum in Scotland. Greig has had 6 years experience working as a director, choreographer and producer and has used this experience to found several theatre companies in Scotland, whilst working with pre-existing theatre companies working with people aged 5-21.
Hayley’s performance credits include Susan Parks in Billy Elliot (Victoria Palace, West End), music videos (Example and the Loveable Rouges), and Dandini in Cinderella! (Bury St Edmunds). As a teacher she has worked with all ages in a variety of settings, including theatre schools, LAMDA exams, and young company workshops for the Theatre Royal (BSE). Hayley is currently directing several pieces for end of year shows at multiple theatre schools.
Charlie has worked with a primary aged theatre club for two years and has been part of a touring TIE project. He has also worked with a Year 4 class, introducing them to Drama over several weeks.
Before attending the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Phoebe worked in the Drama department of a secondary School for a year, teaching Drama to two Year 7 classes and assisting with other year groups. During this time, she also directed the Key Stage 3 production of Hamlet.
Banquo the Bee
Banquo is the newest member and face of To Bee Theatre Company, as he represents the titular Bee. Banquo has been joining us during research, workshop creation and performance rehearsals. Banquo has been an essential part of engaging children with the project, and his social media presence has encouraged a younger demographic to take interest in our work.
What are we doing?
Since early March the team have been in the process of creating and refining Shakespeare-related workshops, which have been delivered to six primary classes over the past two weeks. The workshops focus on the family feud between Montagues and Capulets in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. During the workshop, the children have explore the two families’ connection, and have also come up with a story of why they think the family feud began. These created stories will be acted out in our performance - ‘The Forgotten Feud’.
The workshops give a chance for the children to become writers and creators. They are following in the footsteps of Shakespeare himself, expanding on his well-loved plays and giving them new life.
Through our workshops we aim to provide an inclusive space where active learning can be achieved. In today’s education climate, the space for children to explore text practically is declining, and we would like to demonstrate the value that physical exploration of literature can have on children’s knowledge. Through active learning, and by the children creating their own stories physically, we have the “aim of the learners making [Shakespeare] their own, “owning it’” (Stredder, 2007: 8). This ownership, we believe, will encourage a deeper engagement and enjoyment with the text and themes as the participants will have agency.
We believe that our workshops are providing an important opportunity for children to engage with Shakespeare in an interactive and accessible way; we want to highlight the importance of the arts, particularly coupled with literature, as the arts can make what can often be a difficult text or story accessible to younger audiences.
Engaging Children with Shakespeare and Literature
Our collaboration with Senate House Library has offered us the unique opportunity to utilise the library resources and space, and enabled us to physically couple active learning with literature. This is invaluable as, not only are our workshops able to bring Shakespearean text to children, but by running the workshops in the library the children are able to see what it has to offer and realise the benefits of these resources. We believe that this merging of practical engagement through our workshops coupled with the library setting will help the children to engage with what is often difficult text and realise the benefits of this.
What's been happening?
Over the past few weeks, we have been fortunate enough to have viewed a copy of the first folio of Shakespeare’s works, along with other relics and books relating to the hype that surrounds Shakespeare over the years. These fascinating stories offer creative opportunities for us to bring into our performance, as well as present to the children as many of the stories are humorous.
Before running our workshops with the schools, the team ran a trial workshop with some students from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama to test ideas and ensure that the workshop had a strong sense of purpose.
To Bee Theatre Company hope to keep the magic and fascination of Shakespeare alive and bring the benefits and cultural history of Senate House Library to younger audiences. Over the past few weeks we have run successful workshops with six schools and our performance based on their created work is taking place this week.
Continuing our collaboration with Senate House Library, we have been drawing inspiration from its space, stories and fascinating history, to create an engaging and diverse performance which we hope will encourage younger audiences to engage with the library and what it has to offer.
On Wednesday 8th June and Thursday 9th June, there will be evening performances of the show that the children have written, performed by us! Tickets are free and can be booked here.